The play starts when…


There is a great story, from Peter Brook in his book The Shifting Point, about how theater was started:

“God took a piece of paper, scribbled on it, put it into a box and gave it to the angel saying, ‘Everything is here. This is my first and last word.’…the word is ‘interest’. …the people said, ‘Interest. To interest. I must interest. I must interest another. I can’t interest another unless I’m interested myself. We need a common interest.”

I just returned from University of West Florida where the students presented an incredible passionate production of Micheline’s play. What made the play successful is that everyone: audience, ensemble, school counselors – other collaborators were interested and invested in the play. The story, the theme, the issue, and each other.

The play starts when the cast surrounding the stage began to stomp their feet with enthusiasm as the two leads, Fay Fay and Dylan, square off in the center of the arena. That energy and passion is matched throughout as the actors approach each scene. They carry on and off scenic elements. They dance to Bystander chorus moments – that they created and choreographed. They call the lights and sound cue – that were designed by them. Each with precision and intention.

No, actually the play starts when, director and faculty member, Scott Hudson welcomes and introduces the audience to the evening. Explaining the process of the College Collaboration Project. Where the play is in the process, the changes that have made along the line, that the actor may call for line because things have been changed up until right before the show, and that the audience is a vital part of the development process. They are included. They are important. They are part of the discussion.

No, actually the play starts when the audience enters the lobby and sees the three sided board in the middle of the lobby articulating the issue of rape in our society with an invitation to take a stand. lobbyAnd when they walk by the table set up by the counseling center with pamphlets of information about sexual assault, and alcohol, and therapy – along side “I heart consensual sex” buttons and lip balm with signs that read “bystander intervention is the balm”. And next to that is a video playing, that documents the entire process of the class and the development of the script that playing which was created by students.

No, actually the play starts when the students show up early to put in changes from the dress rehearsal on their own. They solve the issues of new cuing – and blocking. They do this while others in the ensemble check props, finish doing the laundry, and refocus a light.

No, actually the play starts when it’s over and the entire audience stays for a talk back at midnight. To talk about the issue of sexual assault. img_52301To talk about the role of the bystander and society. To talk about how the play is personal and specific and allowed them to be engaged in a way that they haven’t been before.

No, actually the play starts when every body cares. When they are engaged, valued, invested, empowered. All of that comes from interest. Interest in the play, interest in the idea, interest in one another. Everyone’s investment in the project and each other is what elevates this program well above the development of a script. This interest starts with the initial conversation and is shared among each of the three schools.

The play starts when someone is interested.

Talk soon.